Cucumber Salad

5 from 2 votes

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Crispy and slightly pickley, this cucumber salad is light and crunchy, and very refreshing.

Cucumber Salad in a yellow bowl.

So easy to make, and so crunchy and refreshing – and it’s kosher and vegan! This light salad goes with everything, a perfect simple combo of cucumbers and red onions with a quick dressing. If you don’t have time to salt the cucumbers, don’t worry — you’ll be eating this cucumber salad in minutes!

It’s the perfect addition to any cookout or summer meal, and is also great as part of a brunch menu. And if you like cucumber salads, you’re going to want to try all of these versions: Vietnamese Cucumber Salad, Japanese Cucumber Salad, or Creamy Cucumber Salad.

Cucumber Salad in a yellow serving bowl.

I grew up with various versions of this salad, sometimes homemade, sometimes from the deli. It was a critical part of the much anticipated bagels-and-smoked-salmon brunches we sometimes had at our house. My mom would make it with lots of dill, and that’s how I like it to this day.

I love finding leftovers in the fridge. Even if they aren’t as crisp as when fresh, this salad is so refreshing and delicious.

Cucumber Salad: Crispy and slightly pickley, this salad is light and crunchy and very refreshing.

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Ingredients

  • Cucumbers – I like to use baby cucumbers in the salad, but you can definitely use regular-sized. Try and find seedless if you can.
  • Onion – I love the way red onion, halved and very thinly sliced, looks in a cucumber salad.
Fresh cucumber, red onion, and dill and other ingredients for summer salad.
  • Kosher salt – If you salt the cucumbers and let them drain, it removes some of the excess water in the cucumbers and concentrates their flavor. This step is optional!
  • White wine vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Minced fresh dill
  • Sugar – Just a touch to balance the acidity of the dressing.
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cucumber Salad after being salted, spread out on a white dishtowel.

How to Make Cucumber Salad

  1. Salt the cucumber and onions (optional!): Place the thinly sliced cucumber and onion in a colander and toss with the salt. Let sit in the sink or over a bowl for 30 to 40 minutes to catch the liquid that will drip out.
  2. Rinse the cucumbers and onions: Use cold water, then use your hands or a clean dish towel to squeeze the water from the vegetables.
Draining salted cucumber and red onion slices with dishtowel.
  1. Dress the salad: Transfer the cucumbers and onions to a bowl and add the vinegar, oil, dill, sugar, and pepper. Toss to combine.
Adding vinaigrette dressing to fresh cucumbers in bowl.
  1. Serve: You can also refrigerate the salad for a day, knowing the salad will soften as it marinates.
Woman tossing cucumber salad with dressing in white bowl.

FAQs

What does cucumber salad contain?

A basic cucumber salad contains cucumber and onions with a dressing. The dressing can be a vinaigrette style dressing, as it is here, or a creamy style dressing, often made with yogurt or sour cream.

Is cucumber salad good for you?

This type of cucumber salad, with a very light dressing made with just a tablespoon of olive oil, is extremely healthy! Pile your plate high!

How do you keep cucumber salad from getting watery?

Salting the cucumbers before dressing them pulls out the excess water in the cucumbers, and helps prevents the salad from getting watery. If you don’t have time, that’s ok — just serve the salad shortly after it is dressed.

Tips

  • You can use two seedless cucumbers if you can’t find the small ones. Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop out the small amount of seeds using a teaspoon (even seedless cucumbers have seeds!). Cut the cucumber halves into thin half-moon slices.
  • In a perfect world, you let the cucumbers and onions macerate (soften) in some salt for a bit, which pulls out some of the liquid from the watery cucumbers and softens the flavor of the onions a bit.
  • To remove the excess water from the cucumbers and onions after salting, just pile the rinsed cucumbers and onions in a line down the middle of a clean dish towel. Roll it up, and twist and squeeze over a bowl or the sink. Or just use your hands.
  • If you like a super-crispy salad, make this right before serving. But, if you like (as I do) a salad with some crunch but a slightly more pickle-y marinated quality, then make it a day ahead.
  • If you don’t have the time to salt and drain the cucumbers and onion, you will still have a lovely, clean-tasting salad. But without salting first, the salad will get watery more quickly, so if you do skip that step, it’s best to serve it within a day.

Bagels and Appetizing

This is one of the oddest phrases in the Jewish culinary spectrum, in my modern opinion. Appetizing is an adjective, right? Yes, but it’s also an old New York noun, and in this context, it is defined as “the food one eats with bagels,” and generally is understood to encompass the array of foods one finds on the Jewish brunch table: lox (or smoked salmon), whitefish, herring, cream cheese, pickled things. No non-fish meat products, however, because of kosher dietary laws. So, in Jewish parlance, an appetizing store is a place that sells fish and dairy products, whereas a kosher delicatessen sells meat.

So there you have it, but I can’t imagine that the creators of this term ever thought there might be sun-dried tomato or blueberry cream cheese alongside the herring.

Cucumber Salad in a yellow serving dish.

What to Serve With Cucumber Salad

More Cucumber Salads

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5 from 2 votes

Cucumber Salad

Crispy and slightly pickley, this cucumber salad is light and crunchy, and very refreshing.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Salting Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 People
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Ingredients 

  • 12 mini or baby cucumbers (about 1 pound)
  • 1 medium-size red onion (halved and very thinly sliced)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Instructions 

  • Thinly slice the cucumbers. Place the cucumber and onion slices in a colander and toss with the salt. Let sit in the sink or over a bowl for 30 to 40 minutes If you have time) to catch the liquid that will drip out.
  • Rinse the cucumbers and onion in very cold water. Then, using your hands (or better yet, a clean dish towel), squeeze the liquid from the vegetables, getting as much water out as possible.
  • Transfer to a bowl and add the vinegar, oil, dill, sugar, and pepper. Toss to combine. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for a day, knowing the salad will soften as it marinates.

Notes

  • You can use two seedless cucumbers if you can’t find the small ones. Slice the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop out the small amount of seeds using a teaspoon (even seedless cucumbers have seeds!). Cut the cucumber halves into thin half-moon slices.
  • In a perfect world, you let the cucumbers and onions macerate (soften) in some salt for a bit, which pulls out some of the liquid from the watery cucumbers and softens the flavor of the onions a bit.
  • To remove the excess water from the cucumbers and onions after salting, just pile the rinsed cucumbers and onions in a line down the middle of a clean dish towel. Roll it up, and twist and squeeze over a bowl or the sink. Or just.use your hands.
  • If you like a super-crispy salad, make this right before serving. But, if you like (as I do) a salad with some crunch but a slightly more pickle-y marinated quality, then make it a day ahead.
  • If you don’t have the time to salt and drain the cucumbers and onion, you will still have a lovely, clean-tasting salad. But without salting first, the salad will get watery more quickly, so if you do skip that step, it’s best to serve it within a day.

Nutrition

Calories: 41kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 2g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 1166mg, Potassium: 130mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 65IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 15mg, Iron: 1mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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